13 June 2024

Te Huia train service connecting Waikato to Auckland to continue

The Te Huia passenger train service connecting Waikato to Auckland will continue to receive government funding for the remaining two-years of the trial period from the New Zealand Transport Agency(NZTA).

This NZTA’s funding decision, taken by its Board yesterday, was announced today (Friday) afternoon. National Land Transport Funds to the tune of approximately $12.2 million have been committed from the year 2024 to 2027, which means this service will have continued central government funding for the next two years.

The board has, however, decided to progressively reduce the subsidy to 60 per cent over the next two years.

This decision will bring cheer to hundreds of supporters who were rallying together to save the future of this train service. A petition to reinstate this passenger service was also launched by Phil Evans and it gathered 1,248 signatures. Over 200 supporters had also gathered in Hamilton over the last weekend for a meeting to discuss train’s future.

But then there were some others who were opposed to the grant of government subsidy. The critics may, however, find some solace from the fact that this service will progressively get less government funding.

Hamilton-Akl train to re-start
Future of Te Huia is secure for now

Meanwhile, the Waikato Regional Council has today welcomed the NZTA Board decision to support the continued trial of Te Huia.

“We have received overwhelming support from the regional community, including through submissions to our long term plan and the regional land transport plan, and I know our loyal passengers will join us in rejoicing over this news,” said Angela Strange, Waikato regional councillor and Future Proof Public Transport Subcommittee Deputy Chair.

“It recognises that Te Huia is well on track to achieving the targets set by the NZTA and gives us the certainty we need to continue planning for interregional passenger rail connecting New Zealand’s fastest growing city and largest city.

“We appreciate the board’s support and belief in the service. It’s clear they have also listened to our passengers, who say this service is a vital link to study, employment and social connections with family and friends; it’s not a luxury for them,” said Strange.

Te Huia is funded by both passenger fares and public funding (taxpayer and ratepayer funding). This funding is equal to the gross operating cost minus fare revenue.

The public funding portion is currently split between NZTA (75.5%), Waikato Regional Council (21.2%) and Waikato District Council (3.3%).

As the government subsidy will be progressively reduced over the remaining two years of trial, Waikato Regional Council will need to consider options for providing the regional share, which will be discussed through long term plan deliberations due to begin on Monday, 24 May.

Now that the funding is going to continue, there has been a sense of relief to supporters who were waiting the decision with abated breadth.

2 comments;

  1. Hamilton City Council Draft LTP should cover funding shortfall through NZTA reduction from 75 to 60%. That’s a meagre 15% over two years. Rail users will appreciate train service more over the remaining trial period, especially the underrated scenery. This announcement demonstrates how sound decision-making can withstand political pressure from Beehive.

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